Data: 1 In 3 Massachusetts Adults Report Food Insecurity

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Nearly 2 million adults in Massachusetts have reported food insecurity, a new report said, which is an increase from previous years.

The Greater Boston Food Bank released its annual statewide study in collaboration with Mass General Brigham.

The report, Food Equity and Access in Massachusetts: Voices and Solutions from Lived Experience, estimates that around 1.9 million adults in the Commonwealth were food insecure in 2023 — or one in three adults — which increased from 1.8 million in 2022.

Over the past four years, food-insecure households have been increasing from 19% in 2019 to 34% in 2023.

Western Massachusetts and the Boston area saw the highest levels of food insecurity. Specifically, Berkshire, Bristol, Hampden, and Suffolk Counties were found to have 45% of adults experiencing food insecurity in 2023.

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Of the 3,000 people who participated in the study, 69% of people who experienced food insecurity said they had to choose between paying for food or paying for utilities, 62% for mortgage or rent, 55% for medical care, and 39% for school tuition.

Many of the households who are food insecure take part in federally funded programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Community Food Assistance Programs, among other initiatives.

However, GBFB's study showed that these programs have been insufficient in terms of alleviating food insecurity in Massachusetts.

75% of people who used two or more food assistance programs said they experienced some level of food insecurity, and almost 80% of households using SNAP said they sought additional food assistance.

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The report showed that food inflation was the leading cause of food insecurity, with over 70% of food-insecure individuals saying that rising food costs were the biggest barrier and needed to be addressed.

“Far too many Massachusetts residents suffer from food insecurity, which has significant negative impacts on their health, well-being and security. Our administration has partnered with The Greater Boston Food Bank to increase access to nutritious food across the state, and we’ll keep working hard to combat hunger,” said Gov. Maura Healey in a press release from GBFB on Wednesday.

One in three households with children reported child-level food insecurity, which means a child went hungry, skipped a meal, or didn't eat for an entire day.

Over 60% of American Indian/Alaska Native households, 56% of Hispanic households, and over half of Black households experienced the highest levels of food insecurity.

Over half of LGBTQ+ households reported food insecurity last year.

44% of college students at public and community colleges in Massachusetts lived in a food-insecure household in 2023.

“Food insecurity is political, economic, and personal. Massachusetts may be doing all the right things, but without proper funding, benefits like SNAP and WIC are simply not enough to keep families fed, and many of them continue to make significant tradeoffs to put food on the table," said Catherine D’Amato, president and CEO of GBFB.

"As a state, we can fix this. We have the power to solve hunger here in Massachusetts."

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